Seals proffinie tlieir young only (ewe It year; sometimes one. sometimes two. at a birth. Not long' after their birth, the young are •ondneted by the mother to the sea. litiany,.if not all, of the species are polygamous. _Terrible tights occur among the males. Seals are very much on their guard trgainst the approach of man, where they have been much molested; but where they have been subjected to no molestation, they are far from being shy, and approach very close to boats, or to men on shore, as if animtnid by curiosity. They are much affected by musical sounds. A flute is said to attract seals to a boat, where they have not learned caution from sore experience; and the ringing of the church bell at Hoy, in Orkney, has very often caused the appearance of numerous seals in the little bay. Seals possess all the five senses in perfection.
The common seal and some of the other species are very intelligent; but there is con siderable difference in this respect amoug the species. lie common seal and some others have often been tamed, and arc capable of living long in domestication, if freely supplied with water. They become very familiar with those who attend to them, and are very fond of caresses and of notice, recognize their name like dogs, and readily learn many little tricks, of which advantage has been taken for exhibitions.
Seals are found in all the colder parts of the world, most abundantly in th.: arctic and antarctic regions; sonic of them also in temperate climates, as far s. as the Mediterranean, and as far if. as the La Plata. Some of them ascend rivers to some dis tance in pursuit of salmon and other fish. They are found in the Caspian sea, and even in the fresh water lake Baikal.
The species are numerous, but in no group of mammalia does more remain for further investigation. Seals are divided into two principal groups—seals, more strictly so called, and otaries (q.v.); the former distinguished by the complete want of external ears, which the latter possess, and by their dentition. . The true seals have been further sub divided into genera, chiefly characterized by their dentition. In the restricted genus phoca or ealocephalus, the incisors are pointed and sharp-edged, six above and four below. The common seal (phoca cantina) is found in the northern parts of the Atlantic ocean. and in the Arctic ocean. It is common on the wilder and more unfrequented parts of the British coast,. particularly in the north. It is remarkably distinguished, even among its nearest congeners, by the oblique position of the molar teeth. The fur is yellowish, variously spotted, and marked with brown. The whole length is from 3 to 5 feet. Its love of salmon is so great that it has been known to haunt the neighbor hood 'of a salmon-net for a long time, and to take the fish after they were entrapped in it. The common seal is generally seen in small herds. Its skin and oil are of consider able mercantile importance. The skin is dressed with the fur on, to make caps, etc., or is tanned and used as leather. The oil, made before decay has begun, is color less and nearly inodorous; it is much superior to whale-oil. The flesh is much used for food in very northern countries, as is that °fall the other species they produce.
It is not easy to shoot a seal. While flint-locks were in use, the seal always dived so quickly on seeing the flash as generally to escape the ball. The popular name SEA CALF, and the specific name cantina, have reference a supposed resemblance of the voice to that of a calf. The HARP SEAL (P. Gramlandica) receives its popular name from a large. black, crescent-shaped mark on each side of the Lack. It is sometimes seen on the British coasts, but belongs chiefly to more northern regions. It is from 6 to S or even 9 ft. in length.—The GREAT SEAL, or BEARDED SEAL (P. larbata), also found On the British coasts, and plentiful on the coasts of Greenland, isgenerally about 9 or 10 ft. long, sometimes more.—The ROUGH or BRISTLED SEAL (P. hispida) frequents quiet bays on the coasts of Greenland, where many thousands are annually killed for their skins and oil. It is the smallest of the northern species.—The GRAY SEAL (lialleka-rus prisms), which has it very flat head, and attains a size nearly equal to the Great seal, occurs on the British coasts, but is much more common in more northern lattiudes, and in .the Baltic sea.—The CRESTED SEAL (stemmatopus eristatus) is remarkable for the elevation of the septum of the nose of limb adult male into' a crest, which sup ports a hood covering the head, and capable of being distended and elevated or depressed at pleasure. The use of this appendage is not known. This seal is plentiful on the coasts of Greenland and the northern parts of North America.—The seals of the southern seas are quite distinct from those of the northern. One of them is the SEA LEOPARD, or LEOPARD SEAL (le ptonyx "Wed so called from its spotted fur. It is found on the South Orkneys and other very southern islands. By far the largest of all the seals is the ELEPHANT SEAL, or sea elephant of the southern seas.
Seals are to some extent migratory, although their migrations do not extend to very great distances, and are probably regulated by the abundance or scarcity of food. The tole of the return of certain species to certain coasts, is very confidently reckoned upon by the natives of the n. and by seal-hunters.
Seal-hunting—or fishing, ns it is often called—requires great patience and skill. Most of the seals. if not all, are gregarious. and one seems to he always placed on the watch, where danger is to be apprehended from hears or from hunters. They climb up through holes in the ice-fields of the polar seas, even when there is a height of several feet from the water, but it us difficult for the hunter to get between them and the hole. Nor is seal-hunting unattended with danger, an enraged seal being a formid able antagonist, at least to the inexperienced.
Sealltunting is the g.reat occupation of the Greenlanders, but it is 'also extensively prosecuted in other northern parts of the world; great numbers are taken on the coasts of Newfoundland and other northern parts of Americit; whale-fishers kill seals us they opportunity; and vessels are fitted out expressly for the purpose, from the northern parts of Europe and of America.